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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sprouts Animations

Hey Sprout! You little jerk! You know your animations werent working right and you kept spending a second in idle animation between every transition? Or how youd somtimes keep doing the running animation while stationary?


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Time for an Update. I've Been Busy

Lot's of progress. We've got levels 1-6 pretty much in the bag and uh (look at the gif now), they are fun. 

It's a slow build, though the first level is scandalously short. It's just a controls tutorial basically with some minor obstacles. Jumping running walking dodging. That sort of thing. Then we build. Each level introduces 1 or 2 new features (except Levels 3 and 6 which are just kind of explosions of all the features.

Also built a very simple Menu screen that can stand in for the demo (which will be levels 1-5), and while it isn't perfect, I think it's not too bad!

The game's gotten pretty hard as well, so I've had to insert a much more traditional checkpoint system. This is a little bit of a disappointment to me because I really liked the idea of having to grow trees as checkpoints, but .... well, you'll see. 

We also got a new texture that's making it a lot easier to recreate the kind of blurry hopelessness that I think we get to see in the last two paintings of Voyage of Life. I'm really, really happy with how this has turned out and the game is going to parallel the paintings very nicely.

Voyage of Life Old Age
Sprout's Tale in Old Age
I've also implemented a system of finding hidden collectibles, which gives this *really* satisfying chime whenever you find one. Here is a picture of a found collectible, though ultimately I've decided to go another way with the collectible itself. Instead of lines from poems it's going to be... well, you'll see. 

All in all, I'm just really happy with how it's coming along and I can't wait to have people start telling me how terrible it is.
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Finding collectibles isn't too hard, but some take
skill to reach.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Well shit.

Was a really unproductive day yesterday. Spent the entire day trying to code in a system for platforms that would, after the player jumps on them, activate a shader to change texture and then, after some time, melt the object or remove it as if it was being melted by lava.  Unfortunately, even when I (finally) got it working, it caused major performance issues. Gonna just get rid of it. So a whole day's work disappears.

Bright side, was stuck on the train with a dead phone for four hours yesterday got some good thinking done. Some new design ideas, some level fillers, some way to take advantage of existing systems. Won't be able to add new bad guys, which is a major drag, but... Such is life, I guess.

Let's finish this muhfug.

Today working on Level 5. A little behind schedule but I'm okay with it. Takes place on a big lake.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Something I've struggled with all along.

How to tell the story. A game of our size has a limited budget. That means no cutscenes. Few story cards. No voice overs. So what are we left with?

In-game text? Being a big fan of rhyming, I thought I might shake my brain in that direction. Til a friend said, hey that's what Child of Light did. Two Let's Plays later and I felt pretty discouraged.

But not defeated.

There are some options available. Little poems for the plot might seem heavy-handed. How to keep it subtle?
Poems in Sprouts Tale- not my best work. This has since
 been replaced

  1. Word scrambles. Scrambled words or letters found throughout each level, player must decipher. Fun, maybe tedious. I wouldn't enjoy it.
  2. Subtle clues scrawled into terrain objects like messages from the dead. Sinners say, "Let em starve", victims say "Don't leave me here." I might enjoy this but presents some technical difficulties and makes *actual storytelling* pretty much impossible.
  3. Poems like I've been doing. I like this, but I'm no Dr Suess and it always seems pretentious to use ~poetry~. 
  4. Collecting letters/words. Could be combined with word scramble. Player collects words or finds words throughout a level and must decipher. I wouldn't like this. 
  5. Messages from the dead
  6. Pictures found throughout the world portraying events. These would be simple scrawling, showing perhaps a murder or a building falling or something. 
Really, the choices are 2, 3, and 5. Each of these comes with unique challenges but the drawing one would be by far the most resource intensive. Also, without flat surfaces anyone of these can become a big problem, so I'd need to force little visible flat areas into the design. Over and over.  That could be weird/bad.

I have to be honest, I'm leaning pretty heavily towards the poem option, though I will probably insert some pictographs throughout the game wherever it seems most appropriate. Tell me if you think I'm making a huge mistake.

Scrawled pictures 
Also just about finished level 4. We've now introduced flying enemies, skullhounds, deathzones, and more. Lots left.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

2 down, 14 to go.

Ive finished 2 now, properly introducing the flying enemies, gas traps, skullhounds, and gameplay controls. Ive developed a new arc for game progression wherein the player will spend 3 levels in each terrain type. Hopefully this will sufficiently mix things up.

Still no fairy, tree, vine, or lighting intro. Also no grass growth. Those will trickle in over the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th worlds. This is a great experience for me; now that I'm not confined to a demo level, there's no pressure to show off all our features at once. Also the slowness of this makes for a much easier way to tell stories.

I dont want to give anything away here, since everyone should be able to form his or her own opinion on the ~meaning~, but i will tell you we're staying true to our original plans. The Voyage of Life and all that.

Having some trouble with shaders today. Getting some unexplainable parsing errors. I'm certain my brackets and colons and labels are correct. It's a head-scratcher. What I need is to create some kind of animated forcefield thing that will act as a wall that stops skullhounds from getting outside of their roam area. The problem is, we don't have an animation for "stopped by obstruction and growling at player from a distance" so I need some clear visible "wall" object. The shader is supposed to animate some ghostly looking thing, but I haven't managed to make it look acceptably bad yet. 

Also- how to make backgrounds look more interesting without getting new assets? 

Also my back is fucking killing me today. Can barely sit down. But must. Health tomorrow, Sprout today, as the ancient Romans used to day.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Had a tough semester. Nearly failed. Woulda wasted $4,000. Couldnta failed. Had to put Sprout's Tale on the back burner.

About a month and a half ago I fractured my lower back and the xray revealed some complicated spinal shit that totally sucks. So that also happened. 

It was a rough coupla months. Couldn't get much work done because it hurts to sit down for too long. 

Semester ended yesterday. Got my first couple hours in Unity in a long time logged today. Will keep working. Time has given me some good perspective. The characters moves too fast, the jumps are too big, the obstacles too simple. Smaller jumps, slightly slower run, more frequent enemies. Those changes began tonight. I will need to adjust across a number of levels. 

A smaller, more condensed level requires less assets, requiring less work from the computer. A wing all around. The old snow level was making my computer chug.

It isn't a big change. Many people may not even notice. Also making some minor to major visual changes to better match the tone of the game:

"set pieces." I also need to change the skybox

Here's a picture of our logo because who the hell actually reads these things. If you're here it's 'cause you wanna suck up Murilo Klein's beautiful handiwork. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Creating a sense of change

When I was very young and the weather had warmed up at the end of spring, I spent the afternoon's after school at a creek in a small wood. During that time of the year, while the melted snow from winter was still adding its volume to the streams of the Mid-Atlantic, the creek was swollen with water, offering almost three feet of depth at the most. Our spot was no more than that in width, and we decided on one sunny afternoon to build a bridge of stacked stones to the other side. With a crew of four, we spent the next two weeks gathering large stones from anywhere within a half mile radius and piling them into this little stream. 

What we ended up with was nothing at all like a bridge, looking more like the washed-up debris from a collapsed building, but we couldn't help it. We were proud. So we crossed that bridge every day for as long as the season's heat could dry our shoes when we slipped. 

That story may seem out of place here, in a devlog, and probably is, but its a kind of foundation for the one of the game's core features. Since the beginning, I have wanted to create that experience for the player- one in which the player can interact with the environment is a useful way, and then can see the fruits of his or her labor permanently. 

An original demo of grass growth

This was the game I wanted to play. One in which the world changes as long as the player lives in it so that there is a real and evident change taking place as you progress through the game. This sparked the simple idea- grass grows where the player walks- but has snowballed into much more. 

Grass growth in its current form- grass grows almost everywhere

Now, grass grows where the player walks, flowers grow where trees can be planted, trees serve to brighten a level to beat back darkness while also serving as a functional bridge, and vines create a permanent, living ladder, If all our wishes come true, we will also be able to add a lot more to this, including bushes that serve as springs, 

The light changes with each tree grown. The total number of trees in a level effects
the amount the light changes with each growth

What this effectively does, is that by the time the level is finished, it looks much, much different to the way it started. And to me, that's beautiful.